Yesterday we attended a CDSP trial. Laev has been battling some sort of mystery ailment, which has been steadily sapping energy; we're waiting for bloodwork tests back. But in the meantime, we were already signed up for the trial and she showed no signs of anything communicable, so we went. If she were miserable, I'd pull her.
Laev was happy to be working with me! She was wagging, she did her behaviors energetically and happily, and by the second run of the day, she'd started doing her little grumbling bark as she finished, which usually means, "Hurry up! I hate this standing still bit!" As we were warming up, she even reverted to her "vertical heeling," which is basically a step-step-step-leap-step-step-leap-step-step-step-leap. I was thrilled. Who cares if it's sloppy, who cares if it's out of position, my dog is feeling better and happy to be with me!!
But we did have to go into the ring and compete. Laev was a bit distracted in the beginning, heeling wide and checking out the environment, but then about halfway through the pattern she realized what we were doing and snapped to work. (In CDSP I could have used a bit of praise to encourage her back to place, but I don't feel very comfortable with that -- first, the praise is really a second command, and that's kind of cheating :) and second, I don't want to get in the habit of helping her out in the ring.)
Handler error on the broad jump, so we lost a few points. (I stood in wrong spot.) Full points on drop on recall. The retrieves were a bit funny; Laev came in and sat a little far out (she never quite believes she can fit the dumbbell between us) and then after a second of hesitation, scooted in to a close front.
Time for the go out. We've barely trained this, she wasn't feeling well the last couple of weeks to work on it, and I certainly haven't generalized it to new locations; she's done it only in our own space and then once at another spot. That's it. So this was an exercise in faith. I marked the send with my hand and cued, "Go!"
Laev ran out and then slowed uncertainly. Go where, again? She scanned the ring, trotting, and then headed for the high jump. She jumped it and glanced back. "Sit," I cued, and she did.
Well, I was sure that was an NQ. "Epic fail!" I told her cheerily. "Bad dog!"
Laev wagged her tail proudly. She thinks "bad dog!" is a private joke we made up.
So no further reinforcement for that one; I leashed her and took her out, thanking the judge. But the judge thought it wasn't an NQ, and she called the rep to consult. After a few minutes, they determined that Laev had earned her first Open leg.
So, that was nice. We celebrated with some hot dog bits. (I finally found a brand I don't find too abhorrent to use!)
Second run, Laev did much better, even more enthusiasm. I was proud of how she caught herself, about to go around the jump after retrieving a bounced dumbbell, and corrected her course.
Time for the go out. "Go!' Laev ran right out, veered to her spot behind the high jump and turned to face me. "Sit," I cued -- what else? She was quite pleased with herself. Have I mentioned that Laev is a one-rep learner? That bit of silly talk before was all she needed to cement that spot in her mind.
"You're going to be paying for that for the next four years," my friend Melissa said knowingly.
Ah, Laev.... Darn these smart clicker dogs.